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Indian Chai drink...how to make a really great tasting chai?

riceisnice2011 Aug 11, 2012 04:38 PM

enjoy chai a lot, but probably just as many versions of chai as their are versions of apple pie.
anyone have a simple but great tasting chai to share?
are their other countries that also have a variation of chai drink? I immediately think of horchata drink, but I think that is made of milk.

any suggestions?

  1. p
    paul balbin Aug 11, 2012 05:41 PM

    Horchata is made with milk but one can leave it out or sub soy or almond milk. The major ingredient is rice.
    check this out
    I love the stuff.

    1. frogprince Aug 13, 2012 03:39 AM

      There are hundreds of different Indian Chai recipes because it really does depend on what flavours you like. The simplest way of making chai is as follows;

      1. Boil water in a saucepan...as water begins to boil throw in 1-2 teaspoons of whichever tea leaves you have. Add whatever spices you want to use; popular ones include ginger scrapings, cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, fennel seeds. These can either be whole or pounded into a masala.

      2. Boil the water & tea leaves to brew for 2-3 minutes and then add milk & sugar to taste.

      3. Bring back to boil and take off heat as chai froths.

      4. Strain into cup & enjoy.

      5. Change recipe to taste...

      I use Assam CTC normally...the rule is the smaller the tea leaf, the stronger the brew.

      Hope you enjoy your chai and let me know if you need any more information.

      1. luckyfatima Aug 13, 2012 06:38 AM

        I like to make it Bangladeshi style using sweetened condensed milk. I make it for guests this way at our dinner parties. (Although I have to make a separate round of tea for the couple of guests who don't take sugar.) The end result is sweet, strong masala tea, what is sometimes called karak chai, which means like a hard stiff shot of very sweet tea. It is the kind of tea you get at truck stops and road side stalls.

        I use a very strong brand of black tea. After a lot of experimentation I have found that Barry's Gold Blend lends strength and Newman's Own Royal Tea gives fragrance. I boil water, 3/4 cup of water or so per cup of tea. (I am usually making this is large quantities, at least 5 cups at a time, but it is just as easy for 2 cups of tea.) At this time I also add in a little bit of crushed ginger (1 tsp) and a large pinch of un-husked ground green cardamom. When the water boils, I add in two tea bags per cup of tea, one Newman's and one Barry's. When the water boils, I add in the sweetened condensed milk, plus a little bit of regular milk (whole or 2%). The amount of condensed milk will depend on how sweet you want it. We like to serve it very sweet, so it maybe as much as 1/4 cup per cup of tea. I use the Vietnamese Longevity Brand (3 Old Man) just because I like the taste. Allow this to come to a boil again. Then strain and serve. The condensed milk gives such a great scalded milk flavor.

        6 Replies
        1. re: luckyfatima
          divadmas Aug 13, 2012 06:42 AM

          when they pour tea and milk from on high is it just showmanship or technique?

          1. re: divadmas
            chefj Aug 13, 2012 04:20 PM

            Technique, it aerates and creates a foam on top of the Chai Masala which is prized, much like the crema on espresso
            My favorite Masala for Chai : Black pepper, Cardamom, Cloves and Ginger.

            1. re: chefj
              scunge Aug 14, 2012 03:39 AM

              Any ratio or equal parts to this blend ?

              1. re: scunge
                chefj Aug 14, 2012 04:32 PM

                For 2 beakers of tea I usually use:
                one 1/4 " slice of ginger root
                6-8 cracked Cardamom pods
                4 cloves
                1 tsp of Black Peppercorns

                1. re: chefj
                  scunge Aug 14, 2012 05:33 PM

                  Thank you

          2. re: luckyfatima
            shakkar Aug 16, 2012 04:34 AM

            Never thought of using condensed milk.....but that might give the authentic truck stop / irani cafe chai taste...


          3. JungMann Aug 13, 2012 10:36 AM

            Toast your spices in the pot. I use a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black peppercorns, cardamom and star anise (the latter two being really key in my opinion). Boil your water with the spices and a generous amount of fresh ginger. Steep your tea (either Assam leaves or an Irish breakfast blend) for 3-5 minutes, remove the bags, add your milk and sugar and bring it back to the boil. Let it reduce a bit before straining and serving. You can also try reversing the recipe a bit and scalding the milk with the spices before adding the water and tea.

            1. chefj Aug 13, 2012 04:21 PM

              Horchata is made of Rice and or Almonds depending on where it is from, not dairy.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chefj
                JungMann Aug 13, 2012 07:05 PM

                Technically if you're doing the nut horchata, it's supposed to be made from chufa nuts, but that's very hard to find in the US. Typically I see Mexican rice horchata.

                In terms of other countries having masala chai-like drinks, there are plenty of countries that add spices to their beverages. Arabic coffee has cardamom. Thai iced coffee has cardamom, cinnamon and almond. I'm sure there are more examples.

                1. re: JungMann
                  chefj Aug 14, 2012 04:41 PM

                  True that the Tigernut is most common in Spain except in Cordoba Almonds are typical.
                  Other variations include Barley or Sesame

              2. s
                scunge Aug 15, 2012 05:51 PM

                Came upon this recipe Kripalu Chai Tea

                Makes about 4 cups.

                2 teaspoons whole cardamom
                2 teaspoons whole cloves
                2 cinnamon sticks
                2 whole stars of anise
                1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
                1 3-inch slice fresh ginger
                4 black tea bags
                2 cups milk (or substitute soy milk)
                2 cups water
                1 to 3 tablespoons sweetener of choice

                Combine all spices and tie them in a cheesecloth. Using a rolling pin or other heavy utensil, lightly pound the spices to crush them slightly. Place milk, water, and spices in the cheesecloth in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Bring water back to a boil, turn off, and add black tea. Let steep for 5 minutes, then strain. Add sweet

                1. applgrl Aug 17, 2012 05:16 AM

                  My niece worked with a guy from India who took three months training....just to make Chai. No wonder!

                  I do like to use a milder black tea, Darjeeling or very lightly steeped orange pekoe. I find if you boil the tea it becomes too bitter for my liking. Ditto boiling the spices (love cardamom, cinnamon, clove); keep things at the gentlest simmer.

                  Oh, and ashamed to say but I really like the International Delight French Vanilla fake-o product in my chai.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: applgrl
                    chefj Aug 17, 2012 03:00 PM

                    Orange pekoe is not a kind of tea it is a quality grade.

                  2. junglekitte Aug 17, 2012 07:31 AM

                    Easy and good. http://goodindiangirl.com/how_to_make...

                    You can always add extra spices to this.

                    1. p
                      pine time Aug 18, 2012 09:36 AM

                      Re: cardamom. I always use green cardamom, bash it with a knife to release the seeds, then mush them finely (very finely) using a mortar and pestle. Nothing worse that whole bits in your chai. Have tried the unbashed ones in cheesecloth, but a few always seem to escape.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: pine time
                        boogiebaby Aug 18, 2012 10:35 PM

                        You're supposed to strain the spices out before serving. :)

                        1. re: boogiebaby
                          pine time Aug 19, 2012 08:22 AM

                          Try telling Mr. Pine. Until he did chomp down on cardamom bits, he said straining tea was for Englishmen (he's Indian).

                          1. re: pine time
                            boogiebaby Aug 19, 2012 06:04 PM

                            I'm Indian too, and I've never had chai that had spices or tea leaves left in it! Everyone I know uses a "chai Pooni", or chai strainer.

                            1. re: boogiebaby
                              chefj Aug 20, 2012 01:14 PM

                              For that matter I have never seen it made with ground spices either.

                              1. re: boogiebaby
                                scunge Aug 20, 2012 02:34 PM

                                Would that be made of cloth?

                                1. re: scunge
                                  boogiebaby Aug 20, 2012 03:27 PM

                                  No, it's just a small metal handled mesh sieve/strainer that fits over the mouth of a cup.

                                2. re: boogiebaby
                                  junglekitte Aug 20, 2012 05:11 PM

                                  I agree. I'm not Indian, but I've been to many Indian households and they all have strained the tea out before serving through the handled mesh strainer.

                          2. boogiebaby Aug 18, 2012 10:31 PM

                            I don't measure, but for 2 cups tea, I do about 1.25 cups water and .75 cups milk. Pour the water in your pan, and add 1 tsp fennel seed, 2 cardamom (press them between your fingers to crack the shell) and a 1" piece of cinnamon. Let it boil for a few minutes, then add 2 tea bags ( I use PG Tips or Red Label). Boil for another minute and add sugar and milk. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to simmer and let it simmer for another couple minutes. Strain and serve.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: boogiebaby
                              Sam Salmon Aug 21, 2012 10:59 PM

                              The quality of spices is paramount-much of what one sees on store shelves-especially Indian stores-is as old as the hills and considerably dustier.

                              I like Keyhung from Assam for tea and have recently been experimenting with Grains of Paradise to add a Cardamom/Pepper hint to the masala.

                              Also- Maple Syrup adds a unique somewhat fuller flavour.

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